Over the last 50 to 100 years, we have become a much less healthy nation. A large proportion of the foods that we find readily available are processed, canned, and packed with unhealthy preservatives. This, in combination with a far too sedentary lifestyle, has led to much malnutrition and obesity in modern America.
A revolt against the above-mentioned situation has created a flood of dieting, health food, and holistic living movements. Sometimes, however, it is difficult to separate the fact from the fiction. Below, I will attempt to give the reader 15 helpful principles that will serve him or her well in the attempt to eat a healthier diet.
- Avoid artificial trans-fats. While natural trans-fats may have gotten too harsh of treatment in recent years, the artificial version is truly to be avoided. It greatly increases the risk of heart disease.
- Eating three times a day is still o.k. You do not have to eat five small meals a day, as some have suggested. There may be moderate benefits to this “eating like a bird” procedure, but it is much more important to eat the right kinds of foods in the right quantities.
- Don’t assume everything you hear in the media is true. Many times, a new health food “fact” that gets big publicity on t.v. turns out to be false.
- It is fine to eat meat. Some have falsely claimed that meat “rots in your colon.” That is simply false; meat is digested thoroughly like anything else you eat. Red meat is not bad either if eaten in reasonable quantities. In fact, there are nutrients in meat that are very hard to come by in vegetables.
- Eat eggs. Despite the state of Massachusetts once outlawing over-easy eggs at restaurants and a big media campaign telling us that eggs are bad for us, new studies confirm that they are among the most nutritious things you can put in your mouth. Further, almost all of this valuable nutrition is found in the yolk: the very part of the egg that we were told to be so afraid of.
- Avoid soft drinks like the plague. This is only a slight exaggeration; soft drinks are the most fattening, unhealthy item in the modern American diet.
- Do not equate low fat with healthy. Your body actually needs some fat, and certain omega-3 fats are extremely beneficial. Without fat, food just doesn’t taste good. This inspires manufacturers to pack artificial, low-fat foods with sugar, MSG, and worse. Eat natural low-fat foods like fruits and vegetables, and avoid buying something just because it has “low fat” printed on the label.
- Good sugar still can make you gain fat. It is true that sugar from natural sources like fruit will be far better for you than processed, white sugar or high fructose corn syrup, but any kind of sugar is still going to turn to fat and be stored in your body if you don’t burn it off quickly.
- Get plenty of fiber. Dietary fiber, found mostly in vegetables, is the main food that “good bacteria” in your gastrointestinal tract feed on. These “gut bugs” keep your digestive system going strong and healthy, so be good to them by giving them plenty of fiber to chew on.
- Supplements are no magic cure. While there may be some situations where one can benefit from taking a health supplement, they are not the magic cures that some people suppose them to be. Exercise, good diet, and an overall healthy lifestyle are needed.
- There is more to healthiness than weight. While too much belly fat is a problem, the amount one weighs and even one’s ratio of fat to total body weight is often tied up in genetic factors. One can be skinny and unhealthy as easily as overweight and unhealthy.
- It is not absolutely necessary to count calories. If you focus on eating normal-sized, well balanced meals, it will not matter much what the exact number of calories consumed was.
- Diabetics should eat a low-carb diet. High-carb diets will raise blood sugar levels, and no one needs that problem less than do diabetics.
- Fat does not necessarily make you fat. It all depends on what kind of fat you are eating, how much, and whether your overall diet is balanced.
- Carbs do not necessarily make you fat. Though most Americans get too many carbohydrates from junk food and depleted, white-flour bread, it is possible to eat plenty of carbs without getting fat.
Eating a healthy diet has never been so challenging in all of our nation’s history. There are a million “experts” out there who want to give you a quick-fix cure to all of your health woes. There is no magic wand for good health, however. It takes discipline, hard work, and a little bit of common sense.
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